The Boss’s Daughter
I've been living happily in Thailand for almost two years now. I am one of those guys who really loves Thailand, and the Thai people. Never been happier in my whole life.
Just 3 days ago I was driving into the new local shopping mall here. I was going there to have lunch. There are dozens of incredible restaurants, Japanese to Korean to Thai hot pot, and buffet. Just a great selection. So, I turn in to the shopping mall's private entranceway – a 4-lane road, 2 lanes going each way, each lane being delineated by a dotted line in the middle thus separating the two lanes going in the same direction. I'm in the very left lane going in, and there's another car in the right lane. A little further down the road is a right-hand turn. The driver in the right hand lane then turns and drives into my lane, almost smashing into my car. No signal, nothing. I toot my horn and slam on my brakes and barely avoid being killed, or at least having my car completely smashed. After I toot my horn, the driver doesn't react at all, and doesn't seem to care that he almost killed me, and just continues to drive in my lane.
I'm so mad at this point, I followed the car, waited til it parks, then I park my car two parking spots away, and opened my remote control window. I didn't want to get closer, because I didn't know what kind of whacko was driving the car. I couldn't see inside the car because of the tinted glass.
At this point a young girl of about 20 rolls down her window at the same time, and I yell, "Hey, you almost killed me. You drove into my lane without looking. Please be careful when you drive!!!" It took all of 5 seconds. As I raised my window and drove away, I shouted in frustration "Fxxxing unbelievable!!!" Just the New Yorker in me, I guess.
2 hours later my wife gets a call from the police. She telephones me and tells me I'm in trouble. I tell her what happened. She tells me that the little girl took a picture of my license plate and called the police, and said that I threatened her. I tell my wife that I didn't do that at all. I never even got out of my car. My wife says that she told the police I used the "F" word. Ok, I did. But I didn't say 'F U' to her, I just said it as I drove away to let off some steam.
The police told my wife that I had to come to the police station 2 days later at 10 AM. Today. As a matter of fact, I just got home and it's 12:15, so the story is fresh in my mind.
This morning I wake up, and my wife tells me that she's invited her sister, who's studying abroad (and is home now on summer break) to join us. I tell her that's ridiculous. I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't break any laws. I didn't cause any accidents. Nothing happened. Even the police who spoke to my wife said it was a minor incident and they are not too concerned with it. I didn't want to bring an entourage because I didn't want the person who called the police to think I was worried about it. As far as I was concerned it was a minor incident, and I didn't break any laws.
Ok, my wife prevails. She says that the more people I have at my side, the better off I am. Who knows who the girl I screamed at is or what level of high society she might belong to. This is Thailand. Better to be safe than sorry. She doesn't want the police to think that I'm some Farang who's married to a bargirl, or just a sexpat retiree. And since my wife is the public relations manager at a nice hotel here in town (because she speaks English so well), she decides to wear the Thai ceremonial costume(her work clothes) to the police station.
So the 3 of us enter the police station at 9:50 AM and are met by a very nice young Thai policeman who speaks English very well and is handling the case. I tell him my story, and he says he completely understands, but he says I need to apologize to the girl for using the 'F' word. It's not polite in Thai society.
Now, you know, Stick, that I've been reading your website religiously since its inception, and I've read dozens if not hundreds of stories about: 'In traffic accidents, the Farang is always wrong'. 'Better to be soft spoken, don't show your emotions, be calm, and the result will be more favorable to you in the long run'. Yes, I know that about Thai society. And I'm fully prepared to be calm and collected.
But when the young policeman says that "I" have to apologize, I tell him I'd be happy to, if the girl would apologize to me for not looking where she's going and almost killing me in the car. He smiles at me, and tells me he understands. And from his expression, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get an apology from that nut case girl who almost killed me.
Then the young policeman tells me that the girl's father is coming down to the police station and will be here shortly. I say Ok, no problem. I'm happy to tell the story to her father.
In walks a very well to do Thai. As you can guess right now, it's the girl's father. Not my lucky day.
I try to be as calm as I can. Even more so than before, and I tell my story. I even draw a picture of the road with the dotted lines, and the right turn where his daughter almost smashed into my car. He listens to my story, and says "But you used the 'F' word". I say, Yes I did, but not directed at the girl, only as I drove away trying to blow off steam.
There is a translator there to help him. The translator used to live in the same city that I lived in for 30 years. The people in that city drive like maniacs, and use the 'F' word every time they get behind the wheel. He understands my reaction to the situation, but tells me it was wrong to use the 'F' word.
At this point, I'm beginning to get the picture. It doesn't matter that the girl almost killed me by driving her car into my lane without looking. That doesn't matter at all. It only matters that I used the 'F' word. A word that wasn't even directed at her.
At which point I try to say to the interpreter that I wouldn't have used the word if the girl hadn't been so careless driving. I mean, what comes first, the horse or the carriage?
In their minds the girl did no wrong. It was my fault. And the policeman even went on to say that the lanes merge at that exact point, so she was in her right to do what she did. I told him that the lanes do merge eventually, but not until further down. Which is 100% true. The interpreter says to me that since the girl was on the right side, she had the right of way. Even if she almost slammed her car into mine. So I was not going to win this argument either way.
The young policeman drew up a report, which just said that I apologize to the girl because I used an inappropriate word. Which I signed. Even though the police said that they have no jurisdiction on this case, because the incident was at the mall which is private property and not covered by the police department. But, the report would go in to some file, just in case there might be any other incident in the future. Then they would use this record against me.
Oh, and before that, the cop said that he could take this case to court if he wanted to pursue it further, but he wouldn't do that. I asked him if I had broken any laws. He said no, but in Thailand the use of the 'F' word would be under some law covering abuse to Thai custom. I thought great.
If they had this law in America, 99% of the population would be behind bars.
OK, I'm not in America. I'm in Thailand. I get it.
And even my wife and her sister understand this Thai law. Both of them are convinced everything is my fault and that I was the one to blame.
I'm putting this all behind me now. If it ever happens again, I'll be the one to phone the police. Just my luck, have the daughter of a well to do Thai almost kill me in her car. And I'm the one who's to blame.
Only in Thailand.
This story shows well why I tell foreigners to NEVER use swear in Thailand. In the Thai language, such words are MUCH stronger than the same words in English and using this sort of language is considered extremely bad in decent society. And this applies similarly to English swear words used in Thailand – they are seen as being extremely aggressive, uncouth and the domain of those who are, well, not from the right side of the tracks. I am not talking about right or wrong, but foul language in Thailand is a MUCH bigger deal here than it is in the West. Yes, in Farangland there are people who use foul language in just about every sentence but that is not the case in Thailand at all.
Of course some people in Thailand do swear all the time, but their behaviour is frowned upon and this is absolutely not admired at all. Many Thais never swear, as in, never ever in their life!
I absolutely understand your frustration at this situation as it would be considered "normal" in the West. It's a good example of how simple things in Thailand and Farangland can be so very different!